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Meeting food hygiene regulations in farm shops
The Farm Retail Association (FRA) boasts that Britain’s farm shops make an incredible £1.4 billion in sales nationally. The research shared at the FRA conference in 2022 was carried out by researchers from Harper Adams’ Food, Land and Agri-Business Management Department. This research aimed to uncover the impact of farm shops on farmers, suppliers and their communities as well as the UK’s rural landscape and the wider British economy.
Harper Adams’ research revealed that there are approximately 1,581 farm shops in the UK and they employ around 25,000 people. The research goes on to say that, in the same way as many retailers, the greatest difficulty is in finding skilled staff (35% of farm shops said this was a challenge).
The sector has seen a huge increase in recent years with around a third of farm shops opening within the last decade. Nearly all farm shops have spun out of the want or need to diversify and there is a lot to consider when setting up and understanding the required legislation.
Farm shops vary in what they sell, often depending on the type of farm they are based on. Most sell fresh produce such as vegetables, fruit, potatoes and eggs. Many also make and sell products such as jams, preserves and sauces as well as meat products including sausages, bacon, beef and chicken. Dairy farms will often sell their own dairy products including milk, cheese and butter. Additionally, some farm shops use their produce to make their own baked goods or cooked products such as soups and stews.
Whatever type of produce and foodstuff a farm shop sells, the food hygiene on the premises must be up to the required legal standard. This not only protects the consumer from potential foodborne illness but also protects the business in terms of its reputation and livelihood.
Food safety and hygiene legislation to follow for farm shops
Farm shop owners must be knowledgeable about the legislation that they must follow to operate safely and within the law. The farm shop must be registered with the local authority’s Environmental Health Department at least 28 days before food operations are started. An Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will inspect the premises before opening to check that the food safety laws are being met and to give it a food hygiene rating.
The EHO will check that food hygiene is being managed systematically throughout the farm shop and that the premises are appropriate in their standard and design. This may be a sticking point for a newly opened farm shop within a farm setting. Staff training on food hygiene will be required too to show good compliance and understanding of what’s expected. There are also additional regulations for selling dairy and meat products.
These are the regulations that all food businesses in the UK must follow, including farm shops:
- The Food Safety Act 1990 – This Act provides a framework for all food and drink establishments to follow. The Act ensures that farm shops and other businesses do not put anything in food, remove anything from food, or treat food in ways that would mean it could be damaging to the health of those eating it. It also ensures that farm shops serve or sell food that is of the substance, nature and quality that customers should expect and that food is labelled, presented and advertised in a way that is not misleading or false.
- The Food Standards Act 1999 – This Act establishes the Food Standards Agency (FSA) as the body that oversees food safety laws and legislation in the UK. Its main goal is to protect public health when it comes to food and gives the FSA the power to act in the consumers’ best interests during all stages of food production, processing and supply.
- The Food Safety and Hygiene Regulations:
– The Food Safety and Hygiene (England) Regulations 2013
– The Food Hygiene Regulations (Scotland) 2006
– The Food Hygiene Regulations (Wales) 2006
– The Food Hygiene Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006
- The Food Information Regulations 2014
– These regulations stipulate that businesses must provide allergen information if a food contains any of the 14 listed allergens.
– These were amended by the Food Information (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2019 to include Natasha’s Law.
Natasha’s Law came into force on 1 October 2021. This law is the legacy left following the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, a teenager who died after suffering an allergic reaction to a baguette from Pret a Manger. This law applies to farm shops that make products on their premises and then pre-package them for sale (PPDS products). If food isn’t packaged (such as baked goods displayed in a chiller), it doesn’t require labelling. However, the allergen information must still be readily available to the consumer.
Some examples of PPDS foods you may find in a farm shop include:
- Baked goods or sandwiches which are packaged before they are requested/ordered by a customer.
- Sausage rolls, pasties and pies if they are pre-packaged before they are ordered.
- Meat products such as marinated steaks, burgers, sausages, stir-fry packs, sliced meats, and other pre-packaged meat products produced on-site.
Other regulations for farm shops
In addition to the regulations and laws above, there is other legislation that is also applicable specifically to farm shops. Whilst not always directly related to food safety and hygiene, farm shop owners must be aware of this legislation too to avoid cross-contamination or incorrect labelling of products. This includes:
Organic produce must meet the requirements before it can legally be labelled as ‘organic’. To be labelled as such, it must be certified by an approved UK organic control body. This includes food that is prepared, imported, exported, stored or sold at the farm shop.
- It must meet organic production rules.
- It must have at least 95% organic agricultural ingredients.
- All other ingredients, additives or processing aids must be listed as permitted within the organic regulations.
- The product, its labels and any suppliers must be certified by an approved body.
- Terms such as ‘organically grown’, ‘organically produced’ and ‘grown or produced using organic principles/methods’ must be used carefully. This also applies to business names. Farm shops cannot use names such as ‘Ben’s Organic Supplies’ if non-organic products are also sold.
Meat products must comply with laws regarding their content and preparation:
- There is a maximum allowed total fat content for different meats. For mammals (other than rabbits and pigs) or mixtures of species where the majority is a mammal, there must be no more than 25% fat content. The collagen-to-meat ratio must also not exceed 25%. For pigs, the fat content and collagen-to-meat protein ratio must not exceed 30% and 25% respectively. For birds and rabbits, these figures are 15% and 10% respectively.
- Meat labelled as ‘fresh meat’ must not have had any preserving other than chilling or freezing. This includes vacuum-packed meat or meat packed in controlled atmospheres.
- Meat preparations are considered food that has been made from fresh meat where the structure of the muscle fibre that makes up the meat has not been changed but other foods have been added. These could include seasonings and additives.
- Farm shops are not allowed to sell products that contain the following meat if the product is uncooked at sale:
– Intestine (except as sausage skin)
– Spinal cord
- All meat products must be labelled if they contain added water if it makes up more than 5% of the product’s weight. This only applies if the meat looks like a cut, slice, portion, joint or carcase. It doesn’t apply to sausages. The name of the food must state that it has added water such as ‘chicken with added water’.
- Formed foods must be labelled as such. This applies if the product looks like it is one whole piece of meat when it is actually made up of more than one, such as a chicken breast or a slice of pork. It must have ‘formed meat’ next to its name.
- Added proteins must have the information on the label within the name of the food such as ‘pork escalopes with chicken egg protein’.
This applies to proteins such as:
– Milk protein
– Egg protein
- Minced meats must also meet certain standards:
– Lean means it contains less than 7% fat.
– Pure beef means it contains less than 20% fat.
– Minced meat containing pork must be less than 30% fat.
– Other minced meats must have less than 25% fat.
– It can be outside of these criteria if it is labelled ‘For UK market only’ followed by the national mark, which is a printed square.
- Frozen meat must show its date of freezing or first freezing.
- Certain products must have a minimum percentage of meat if they use one of the following names:
– Sausage, chipolata, sausage meat, link.
– Sausage roll.
– Game pie.
– Scotch or Scottish pie.
Dairy products must comply with dairy product legislation. The Food Standards Agency inspects premises every six months for farms that sell raw cows’ drinking milk that is sold directly to the customer as well as raw drinking milk of other species.
A farm shop would be breaking the law if its products did not meet these requirements. The local council may issue an improvement notice if they find that the legislation has not been met.
What happens if the legislation is not followed?
In 2020, a farmer who ran a farm shop in the Vale of Glamorgan was prosecuted for food hygiene offences. He was ordered to pay fines of almost £5,000. His offences included falsely labelling chicken as free-range as well as breaches in hygiene such as poultry being kept in filthy conditions, the slaughter room and equipment being extremely dirty, and food not being kept protected from contamination. Additionally, waste and animal carcases were not stored or disposed of correctly. The farmer was ordered to close the business immediately before working to improve his business.
The faults were first identified in the spring, but by October 2020 standards had once again lapsed and his poor practices recurred. The farmer was found not to be implementing his cleaning schedules and food safety management systems. During his prosecution, he was also prohibited from producing poultry commercially for five years.
Staff training on food hygiene for farm shops
Staff training on food hygiene in farm shops is a legal requirement. By law, all farm shops must make sure that those who prepare, handle and sell food are trained and supervised in food hygiene. This does not mean that every worker in a farm shop must have their own food hygiene certificate, however. But having food safety training and certification is the best way to show EHOs as well as the farm shop’s customers that it is taking food safety and hygiene seriously. It also provides evidence of due diligence should there be an investigation for a breach in food safety legislation further down the line.
Farm shop staff should have food hygiene training that is appropriate for their tasks and the area in which they work and relevant to their level of responsibility. It should include training on:
1. Personal hygiene
Staff should have training on the importance of handwashing, not working when ill and covering cuts and wounds.
2. Storing ingredients, meat products, baked goods etc.
Staff should have training on how to store ingredients correctly including separating raw and cooked ingredients, and temperature control.
3. Preparing meat products and baked goods
Staff should be trained appropriately on how to avoid cross-contamination, handling raw meat, cooking and baking goods thoroughly if required, and ensuring that food is not left out at room temperature for too long.
4. Cleaning and sanitising preparation areas, display areas and serving areas
Farm shop staff should be trained on how to clean areas properly including how to clean different surfaces and equipment, and how to use cleaning products and cloths safely.
5. Managing food safety
Farm shop staff should know the principles of hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) – a systematic approach to identifying any hazards and controlling potential hazards in producing baked goods.
There are different levels of food safety and hygiene certification:
Level 1 is an introduction to food hygiene practices. This training is typically for those who handle low-risk foods such as foods that are already in packaging or already pre-prepared on-site. This level of certification is useful for those working on tills selling pre-packaged foods.
Level 2 is a basic food hygiene certificate. This is a good choice of certification for staff who prepare and handle meat products and/or baked goods. Most farm shop workers will need Level 2 certification, particularly those who work in a kitchen environment or who package up meat products and/or baked goods.
Level 3 is classed as an intermediate food hygiene certificate. This is for those who have significant responsibilities within the farm shop such as the owner, manager and supervisors as well as those involved in food safety management and HACCP systems.
Whilst this initial training is important, farm shop staff should also ensure that they refresh their food safety and hygiene training every couple of years or so, especially if there have been any changes to the legislation, as with Natasha’s Law.
Food hazards in farm shops
For most people, food hazards are something that we are naturally aware of in our day-to-day lives. However, the level of awareness of food hazards needed is different when you are working in a farm shop. Given that they’re most often on the farm itself, farm shops must have enhanced awareness of all hazards that may pose a risk to consumers. Farms are often teeming with hazards that other food businesses and establishments don’t always need to consider due to their location.
The FSA describes a food hazard as “something that could make food unsafe or unfit to eat”. The hazards can either be biological, chemical, physical or allergenic.
Biological food hazards are microorganisms or other living organisms. Some microorganisms can cause disease or illness in humans if they are consumed through contaminated food. The most common biological hazards in food include bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi.
- Bacteria – Certain bacteria, such as salmonella, campylobacter and Escherichia coli (E. coli), can cause food poisoning when they are present in contaminated food.
- Viruses – Viruses such as norovirus and hepatitis A can be spread through contaminated food and cause gastrointestinal illness.
- Parasites – Parasites such as cryptosporidium and Toxoplasma gondii can be found in contaminated food and cause illness in humans.
- Fungi – Some types of fungi can produce toxins that contaminate food and cause illness such as Aspergillus flavus which produces the toxin aflatoxin.
Livestock farmers must pay particular attention to disease prevention on their farms and therefore their farm shops too. Diseases in farm animals and birds are mostly spread through animals moving between farms or by the introduction of new animals to a farm.
However, they can also be spread by:
- Contact between animals from neighbouring farmland.
- Sharing vehicles, equipment, machinery, bedding and feed between farms.
- The movement of workers or other people within the farm or between farms.
- Visitors to farms including vehicles, people and pets, including visitors to farm shops.
- Wildlife contamination including wild birds and vermin.
- Animals drinking from contaminated water sources such as streams and rivers.
Some animal diseases are also what’s known as zoonotic. This means that they can spread between animals and humans. This is why farms and farm shops need good biosecurity to reduce this risk to their workers and the general public who visit the farm or farm shop.
To reduce the risk of biological hazards to staff and visitors to farm shops, staff should be trained on disease security as well as food hygiene. This includes positioning the farm shop in an area away from livestock and keeping the surroundings of the shop clean and tidy. Providing disinfectants and cleaning materials for staff and visitors to use is also good practice. This may include protective clothing and footwear for staff such as Wellington boots that are easy to disinfect.
Chemical food hazards refer to harmful substances that can contaminate food and cause illness or disease when consumed. Chemical food hazard substances can occur naturally in the environment or be added to food either purposefully or accidentally. On a farm, chemical hazards may include the disinfectants used to prevent the spread of biological hazards such as livestock diseases as well as toxic gases from slurry pits.
Some chemical hazards that pose a risk to foods from farm shops include:
- Pesticides – Pesticides are chemicals used in farming to control pests and diseases in crops. If used improperly or in excess, they can contaminate food and cause health problems. On a farm, the farmer must be aware of pesticide regulations as well as spray drift. The farmer has the responsibility to ensure that the general public is not affected by spray chemical drift from farm operations such as pesticides.
- Fertilisers – Chemicals used to improve the soil may leech into the produce sold in the farm shop.
- Heavy metals – Heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and mercury can contaminate food through soil and water pollution, or from the use of contaminated packaging or equipment.
- Food additives – Certain food additives, such as artificial sweeteners, colours, preservatives and flavourings can cause adverse reactions in some people, particularly if they are used in excess of what is considered safe. In a farm environment, there are added risks that include medicines and feed additives that are fed to livestock before slaughter.
- Paints, disinfectants, oils, lubricants, cleaning chemicals and detergents – A lot of chemicals such as those listed above are used in a farm environment. Farmers and farm shop workers must be aware of the potential chemical hazards that exist close by to the food and produce on offer within the farm shop.
- Gases from slurry – Farms often have a particular smell, often due to the gases that are emitted from slurry and slurry pits. Farm shop workers must be aware of this chemical hazard and prevent contamination of foodstuff within the farm shop.
- Contaminants from packaging – Chemicals from packaging materials such as plasticisers and bisphenol A (BPA) can migrate into foods and cause health problems.
Physical food hazards refer to foreign objects or materials that may contaminate food during the production process either accidentally or intentionally. These hazards can cause harm to customers such as choking, cuts, and causing damage to teeth.
Physical hazards include:
- Glass or metal fragments – These can make their way into food during the production process such as if a glass jar or metal equipment is broken. Farm shop owners should inspect machinery and utensils regularly for wear and tear. Regular maintenance should be carried out and any damaged items should be replaced.
- Stones, dirt and dust – These hazards can occur if food is not properly washed before preparing it or not properly sorted. Vegetables and salads are common places where these hazards occur. There may also be dust from animals, plants and poultry as well as composted or fermented materials and biocides on farms. This dust can travel into food production areas or into the farm shop itself.
- Bone fragments – Meat products are prone to this physical hazard if they are not properly removed during processing.
- Plastic or rubber materials – These hazards can be introduced during food packaging or equipment used during processing or handling.
- Jewellery, hair or nails – If employees do not follow good food safety practices including good self-hygiene, hairnets, properly fitting clothing and removing jewellery before preparing food on a farm, these items can find themselves in the food being prepared.
Allergenic hazards in food are those which can cause an allergic reaction in people with food allergies. Allergens are typically proteins that are found in certain foods, and when someone with an allergy consumes them, their immune system reacts by releasing histamines and other chemicals that can cause mild to severe symptoms, including anaphylaxis which can ultimately lead to death.
Some of the most common allergenic hazards in food include:
- Peanuts and tree nuts.
- Milk and dairy products.
- Wheat and gluten.
As mentioned, food safety laws mean that certain allergens must be emphasised and clearly labelled on the packaging and that food establishments like farm shops must also have allergy information available for customers on the items that they make and sell. There must also be proper allergen management controls in place.
When handling food, farm shops must follow the 4Cs of food hygiene to best prevent and avoid food hazards.
The 4Cs are:
According to the Food Standards Agency, a lack of proper cleaning is one of the most common reasons why a food business like a farm shop is prosecuted. Cleaning is vital. It prevents harmful pathogens or cross-contact allergens from spreading, getting where they shouldn’t, and contaminating foods. Cleaning also discourages pests from making a home on the premises.
Farms, by their very nature, are often dirty places. There’s slurry, animal bedding, mud, dust and heavy machinery, to mention a few things. As such, farm shops that operate directly from farms must be extra vigilant and scrupulous when it comes to cleaning.
The farm shop should be in a designated ‘clean’ area, away from as many farm hazards as possible. Aside from this, farm shops should have strict measures in place to prevent dirt from entering the shop. This may include workers wearing particular clothing and shoes that can be cleaned and disinfected very easily, such as Wellington boots. There should also be mats at entrances to reduce the amount of dirt coming into the shop on customers’ shoes.
Most farm shops cook some of their goods on the premises. This often applies to baked goods such as cakes or sausage rolls made with farm-produced sausages. Often, farm shops cook samples of their products for customers to try before they buy, too. This means that any baking and cooking must be done correctly before food is sold to customers. If food is undercooked, it can mean that it is not safe to eat and could cause illness such as food poisoning if someone eats it. Foods must be cooked or baked for the correct amount of time at the correct temperature to ensure that any harmful bacteria that are present in the food are killed. Farm shops should also follow any food preparation guidelines on packaging (if present) and ensure that it is piping hot during cooking.
Nearly all foodborne illnesses happen as a result of cross-contamination when harmful allergens or pathogens are transferred into food from surfaces, utensils, between foods and from person to food. Cross-contamination of bacteria and viruses often results in what people call ‘food poisoning’. When referring to allergens, the term ‘cross-contact’ is more often used. It only takes a microscopic amount of allergen to cause an allergic reaction in some people.
Aside from pathogens and allergens, cross-contamination can occur with chemicals such as those used in cleaning, especially ones that are sprayed into the air where they can settle on food. This is a risk on farms where pesticides and other chemicals are often sprayed onto the crops. This spray can then travel into unwanted areas such as near food production areas or near farm shops.
Farm shop workers must take cross-contamination and cross-contact extremely seriously. Farm shops often pose a greater risk of cross-contact than some other food establishments due to their layouts and location. Due to such risk, many farm shops do not offer products that are deemed allergen-free unless they sell pre-packaged items that were not made on the premises.
Farm shops should take the risks seriously and should have the following strategies in place:
- All workers must practise good personal hygiene.
- There should be separate areas for utensils and equipment if dealing with allergens.
- Equipment and utensils should be thoroughly cleaned between uses.
- Food should be stored correctly as per the guidance below.
- Cleaning should be consistent and cautious.
- Windows should be closed if there are nearby slurry pits or pesticide spraying.
Many farm shops offer chilled goods such as milk, cheese, meat products, flans, tarts, egg custards and sandwiches. These products must be chilled correctly and remain at safe temperatures whilst on display. Whilst chilling does not kill harmful bacteria, it does slow down their growth, meaning they should not grow to unsafe quantities. When food isn’t chilled properly, it enters the ‘danger zone’. This encourages pathogens to grow and increases the risk of food poisoning.
To ensure the farm shop’s goods are properly chilled, the following should be in place:
- The fridges must be at 5°C or lower.
- Any freezers must be at -18°C or lower.
- Raw meat should be stored correctly in containers at the bottom of the fridge or preferably in a separate chiller just for raw meat.
- Frozen foods should be defrosted in a fridge overnight before use.
- Farm shop staff should ensure that the fridge and freezers are emptied and cleaned regularly of any spoiled or out-of-date foods.
Personal hygiene in farm shops
When working on a farm, whether dealing directly with livestock or in the shop, it’s important to be aware of personal hygiene expectations and how to be safe when it comes to hygiene. Not only is this important for your health but it is also important for the health and safety of others who may come and shop in the farm shop.
Farm shops are much riskier places to be when it comes to personal hygiene than regular food stores due to their location and proximity to hazards. Farm shop workers often use their hands to handle food for customers, so personal hygiene is of utmost importance.
Every staff member should be trained in personal hygiene expectations, including:
- Direction on how to wash hands thoroughly and properly before handling any foods or ingredients as well as washing hands after handling allergens, raw ingredients, or having been outdoors on the farm.
- Having long hair tied back and secured with a hairnet. This also includes beards.
- Having nails that are short, natural and free from nail varnish.
- No watches or jewellery should be worn. Some farm shops make an exception for a plain wedding band.
- Toiletries used should not be strongly scented, including perfumes.
- Workers should wear suitable clean and practical clothing. In a farm shop, this may include overalls, an apron and gloves.
- Appropriate clean footwear that is slip-resistant and easy to disinfect such as Wellington boots. Alternatively, many farm shop workers have ‘indoor footwear’ such as slip-on Crocks that they do not wear outside at all.
- Chewing gum, smoking on breaks and touching the hair and face should also be discouraged.
When it comes to illnesses, farm shop workers should report the illness to their manager or the farmer as appropriate. This is especially important if they have any nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea symptoms. If experiencing such symptoms, the farm shop worker should not return to work for at least 48 hours after their last episode. Additionally, workers must cover up sores or cuts with bright-coloured dressings, even if there is no known infection.
Food allergens in farm shops
A farm shop may be a place where many allergens gather. For those with allergies, coming across even the tiniest amount of allergen could be fatal. Because of the risks of cross-contamination, many farm shops do not profess to make or sell any homemade allergen-free products.
Whilst they may be free from an allergen by their ingredients, many cannot ensure that they are 100% free from cross-contact.
Natasha’s Law came into force in 2021, ensuring that food pre-packed for sale must come with all the ingredients listed and, specifically, 14 allergens must be clearly emphasised.
- Cereals containing gluten such as wheat, rye, barley and oats.
- Crustaceans, such as prawns, crabs and lobsters.
- Molluscs such as clams, mussels and oysters.
- Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, macadamia nuts, pistachios and Brazil nuts.
- Sesame seeds.
- Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (at concentrations of more than 10mg/kg or 10mg/litre).
In a farm shop, the most common allergens found are likely to be milk, cereals and eggs. Milk and eggs are often responsible for the most serious of allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Information on all allergens in products should be readily available for customers and if the food is pre-packaged for direct sale (PPDS) then the ingredients must be clearly labelled on the packaging.
When preparing food within the farm shop, workers should take precautions to avoid cross-contact.
This can be achieved by:
- Ensuring that allergenic hazards are included in HACCP systems and controls are put in place.
- Providing training on allergens for staff, including what to do in emergencies if a customer has an allergic reaction.
- Looking for allergenic ingredients on purchased products before using or supplying them (i.e. Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies which is a type of fish).
- Preparing products containing allergens in a separate area from non-allergenic products, for example, using different coloured chopping boards.
- Storing allergen-containing products separately from non-allergen-containing products.
- Cleaning surfaces and utensils thoroughly between uses where separate equipment is not possible.
- Labelling containers with any allergens stored within them.
- Recording information regarding allergens accurately, including on-shelf labels or ingredient labels and recipes.
Unlike pathogens such as bacteria, allergens are not affected by heating or cooling. As a result, farm shops should be extra careful when handling any allergens and proceed with caution if a customer reports an allergy. Many farm shops state that they handle all 14 allergens on the premises and cannot guarantee that their products are free from certain allergens to be on the safe side.
Safely storing food in farm shops
Food should be stored correctly in a farm shop to maintain the quality of the food as well as prevent any foodborne illnesses.
There must be strict storage systems in place including:
- Storing food at the right temperature. The refrigerator should be kept at or below 5°C and frozen food at or below -18°C. Some farm shops may keep items warm so they are ready to eat. To keep hot food hot, it should be at or above 63°C.
- The temperature of the fridge and freezer should be checked regularly to ensure that they are working correctly.
- Storage containers should be food-safe and should be labelled with the name of the food and the date it was stored as well as labelling any allergens within it to ensure proper and safe storage.
- Food should be stored in clean, dry and well-ventilated areas to prevent the growth of bacteria and mould.
- Advice for specific food storage should be followed. For example, potatoes, tomatoes and bananas should not be stored in the fridge.
- Rotate food regularly to ensure that older food is used up first. Have a system with first-in-first-out (FIFO) stock rotation.
- Dispose of any spoiled or out-of-date food promptly.
Safely serving food in a farm shops
Whilst it’s not always common, many farm shops have diversified further into eateries or cafés where food is served. The food may be on display on counters or in hot holding areas before it is served to customers. The food mustn’t be contaminated during handling or packaging in the farm shop. Any utensils used to handle foods should be cleaned thoroughly after each use. If utensils are not used, the staff handling foods should use disposable gloves and practise good hand hygiene.
Waste management in a farm shop
Farm shops often produce waste including food and packaging waste. Handling the waste effectively in a farm shop is essential as, if it is poorly managed, it can result in problems with pests. Being on farms, farm shops are often in environments surrounded by animals and their waste. Farms can be breeding grounds for vermin and other pests such as flies and insects.
To reduce the risks on the farm, the farm shop must manage its waste effectively.
This includes separating waste into appropriate containers as well as following these principles:
- Removing waste regularly from food areas to avoid accumulation.
- A good number of bins that are accessible inside the farm shop and also outside.
- Bins allocated to different waste types including food and recycling.
- Bins operated by foot pedals to avoid touching them by hand.
- Lidded bins that are secure to avoid pests having access to the contents.
- Cleaning bins regularly and using suitable bin liners.
- Regular emptying of bins.
- Locking outdoor bins when not in use.
Pest control in farm shops
Pests are a well-reported hazard, not to mention a nuisance, on farms and this can mean they’re close to farm shops too. As soon as food gathers in large quantities, pests always arrive and can be extremely problematic.
Pests in farm shops can include:
- Rodents such as rats and mice – both of these species breed fast and can quickly overtake a farm environment.
- Bats – bats enjoy the countryside environment but often make their homes inside buildings. This could mean that they take up home on or near a farm shop building.
- Insects such as cockroaches, ants and flies.
- Stored product insects (SPIs).
Preventing infestations of pests on a farm and in a farm shop is essential for the good running of the farm and particularly the shop.
Farm shops can try to prevent and control pests by:
- Keeping the farm shop clean and tidy. This includes cleaning the floors, walls and counters. Food spills should be cleaned promptly.
- Disposing of waste correctly, particularly food waste as this is what attracts pests the most. Bins should be tightly sealed.
- Storing food correctly in tightly sealed containers. Containers should not be on the floor to prevent pests from entering them. When raw materials arrive from the farm, the contents should be inspected carefully to make sure no pests are being introduced to the farm shop.
- Sealing any pest entry points such as cracks and gaps around windows, pipes, doors and floor. This will help to prevent pests from entering the farm shop.
- Using products if pests are suspected to catch and/or eliminate them.
- Hiring professionals in to clear any pest infestations so that the job is done properly.
- Training the staff who work in the farm shop to promote the importance of good practices within the farm shop and how to prevent pests.
By following such tips, the farm shop and its customers can be sure to be as safe as possible.